Handbook on the Geographies of Innovation
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Handbook on the Geographies of Innovation

Edited by Richard Shearmu, Christophe Carrincazeaux and David Doloreux

The geography of innovation is changing. First, it is increasingly understood that innovative firms and organizations exhibit a wide variety of strategies, each being differently attuned to diverse geographic contexts. Second, and concomitantly, the idea that cities, clusters and physical proximity are essential for innovation is evolving under the weight of new theorizing and empirical evidence. In this Handbook we gather 28 chapters by scholars with widely differing views on what constitutes the geography of innovation. The aim of the Handbook is to break with the many ideas and concepts that emerged during the course of the 1980s and 1990s, and to fully take into account the new reality of the internet, mobile communication technologies, personal mobility and globalization. This does not entail the rejection of well-established and supported ideas, but instead allows for a series of new ideas and authors to enter the arena and provoke debate.
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Chapter 4: The cultural embeddedness of regional innovation: a Bourdieuian perspective

Ben Spigel


Researchers have long acknowledged the importance of culture in the innovation process. However, while culture is well integrated into frameworks such as Regional Innovation Systems (RIS), the actual processes through which cultural outlooks influence innovative activities is still poorly understood. Beyond this, culture is frequently viewed in an overly simplified way in which only one cultural attribute (such as ethnicity or geography) is seen as a deterministic force in the innovation process. The chapter provides a sympathetic critique of the ways in which culture is employed in RIS research and suggests that the work of Pierre Bourdieu is useful as an alternative to understand the role of overlapping and often confluent cultural outlooks within regions. This framework views innovation as a bundle of practices that actors employ based on their position within multiple, overlapping ‘fields’ of power relations and norms. The framework allows for a more nuanced appreciation for the role of culture that acknowledges the role of multiple sources of cultural influence.

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